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Building the Case: Put a Little Heart in It

Homeowners and the economy will benefit if New Zealanders reconnect with our forests and use timber for the construction of new homes.

“All New Zealanders are stakeholders in the future of the Forest Wood industry in New Zealand. Forests hold steep hillsides together, protect our water catchments and store carbon. Wood processing is one of our biggest regional employers.

However as the choice of building materials increases and as cheaper composite alternatives become available there is the on-going risk that price rather than performance will dominate decision-making,”  states Jane Arnott, CEO, NZ Wood.

This reality is one of the drivers of the new NZ Wood campaign Put a Little Heart in it, Build with Wood.

“Our industry can no longer afford to be timid in standing up and advocating ‘wood first’,” she says.

The campaign encourages home owners, before engaging an architect or engineer, to ask them about their timber design credentials.  Ms Arnott says it is important that professional advisers are up to speed with modern timber design and technology, because of the giant leaps that have been made in the last decade.

“From our work with the Timber Design Awards we know that dream homes are being created in wood. Excellent designs that capture the benefits of timber. This is what we want for everyone building a new home.”  However not everyone has the same background in wood design and our focus is on putting more of those who see the real benefits of one of nature’s most outstanding products in touch with the right people.

Forestry is the country’s second largest export industry (after agriculture) with countries right around the world shifting to using more naturally renewable and sustainable products.  More New Zealanders are looking to make the same decisions rather than using high energy consumption, non-renewable materials.  With more people recognising that timber construction and solid wood based materials offer versatility, aesthetics, greater craftsmanship and utilise local natural resource a bright “woody” future should be possible.

Dunedin Launch

City Forests is a member of the Dunedin City Holdings group of companies which is 100% owned by the Dunedin City Council.

Plantings began in 1906 around Ross Creek making City Forests the oldest forestry company in continuous NZ ownership.

City Forests was created in 1990 by the sale of the Dunedin City Council forestry assets to the new company. The company sustainably harvests 265,000m3/yr and employs 90 people.

The decision to launch the campaign in Dunedin was a ‘no brainer’. New Zealanders love the forest and the recreational value it bestows, in Dunedin, however, every ratepayer benefits if the harvested timber is processed locally.

Timber framing still has dominant market share but the real challenge is on reinforcing the benefits of timber cladding instead of materials that degenerate or struggle to withstand seismic load.

Arnott reinforced the view that in the commercial sector there was a major market distortion around knowledge.  “We are increasingly concerned at the ability of professions specifically the capability of senior experienced engineers and architects (who have a track record in traditional building materials) to apply a wood solution that leverages the Governments investment in innovation. Anyone looking closely at the Canterbury Rebuild will wonder why timber is not more prevalent. From low rise multi story office space to residential the longevity, resilience beauty of timber is hard to beat, add in the fact that timber grows and it’s impossible to rival,” says Arnott

The Campaign

The campaign launches with a long haul truck and trailer unit contracted to City Forests and owned by Dunedin Carrying. The new campaign visuals will be on display throughout the South Island while in the North Island two doubleB-train trucks are in the pipeline. Magazine advertising that showcase stunning homes, exteriors, interiors, kitchens and innovative living will all be highlighted.


Photo Opportunities:

Mayor David Cull with Dunedin MP Michael Woodhouse roaring forth in the cab of the new truck and trailer bearing the campaign livery.

Mayor David Cull and National MP Michael Woodhouse with builders apron standing in front of the campaign visuals



1. About NZ Wood

NZ Wood is governed by the Wood Council of New Zealand on behalf of the Forest Owners Association, Wood Processors Association and the Pine Manufacturers Association and the Farm Forestry Association.

NZ Wood is industry funded and aims to enable and facilitate the growth of the Forest Wood products industry with specific emphasis on creating the environment and building the knowledge base that promotes wood products

2. About Wood and Sustainability

Wood is the only construction material which has absorbed CO2 from the atmosphere when produced, not emitted more:

During its production one tonne of:

Concrete – has released 159 kilos of CO2 in the atmosphere

Steel – has released 1.24 tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere

WOOD however has absorbed a net 1.7 tonnes of CO2 from the atmosphere over and above the energy expended in growing, harvesting and processing.

7 September 2013